Last Fall, Google started its (slow) rollout of Inbox, its completely redesigned email experience for Gmail on the web and mobile. Even today, it’s still an invite-only service (but invites are pretty easy to come by these days). Until now, however, it wasn’t possible to use Inbox with Google Apps for Work accounts. That’s changing today. Google has now launched an invite process that allows Google Apps for Work admins to request access to the service.
Once again, Google is going with a very slow rollout. This is going to be an early adopter program and company admins that already use Google Apps for Work will have to email Google to request an invite (email@example.com). Once they get that — and have Inbox enabled for their companies — their users will be able to use it. Google will send out the first invites next month.
Only admins will be able to ask for invites, by the way, so make sure you do something nice for your friendly neighborhood sysadmin on July 31st.
Google says the companies that should consider signing up for the early adopter program are those that want to use Inbox as their primary email service, whose employees are heavy mobile email users and those that want to partner with Google on user studies to learn more about how employees use the service.
The goal of Inbox, as Google’s Alex Gawley told me last week, has always been to rethink how people get things done. Email usage, after all, has changed a lot since its early days, yet most email clients haven’t adapted to these new realities yet. Google itself has been using Inbox for Work internally for many months now and Gawley tells me that the team has learned quite a bit from this.
The Inbox for Work experience will be virtually indistinguishable from the consumer experience. Gawley acknowledged that they way people use their work email is different from how they handle their personal inbox.
Chances are that Inbox for Work users won’t use the Purchase and Social bundles (Inbox’s version of folders) quite as often as regular Gmail users. Instead, Gawley said, Google Apps users tend to rely on their priority inbox more than others, for example. He also noted that while users can always create their own filters, Google wants to build a solution that gives all users a great out-of-the-box experience. To do this, Google is thinking about how to better approach automatic email categorization in the work context, for example.
While it probably takes a bit of manual setup to make bundles work well in a work environment, Inbox’s snooze and reminder features actually work really well out of the box, no matter your use case.
“We want to learn from our users,” Gawley stressed, “Our goal is to work in partnership with people on the product. When we launched inbox at the end of last year — that was just the beginning of the journey.”